Attributes with Intent (and namespaces)

Peter Murray-Rust peter at
Thu Jun 18 20:36:56 BST 1998

At 14:29 17/06/98 +0900, MURATA Makoto wrote:
>Peter Murray-Rust wrote:
>> Thanks for the reply.  My main concern is with how 'inheritance' is
>> *implemented*. 
>Suppose an article consists of hypertext and metadata.  The hypertext 
>portion contains the metadata as a subordinate structure.  If we allow 
>xml:lang to be inherited from the hypertext to the metadata, programs (e.g., 
>search enginges) that are interested in only metadata have to examine 
>the hypertext portion as well.  Yes, this is not a big deal, but  
>this is undesirable.  Since the metadata is very likely to be 
>created by some software that concentrates on metadata, inheritance of 
>xml:lang from the hypertext portion is unlikely to be exploited.

This is very clear :-). It is exactly this sort of thing that concerns me.
It's not that it's intrinsically difficult, but:
	- a it's easy for someone to overlook when writing an *application*.
(Remember that - at present - inheritance is implemented by the application.
	- *every* application - potentially - has to consider whether
'inheritance' applies to it. It may decide it doesn't need to worry, but
the author of the documents may assume that all applications are
'inheritance-aware'. This will certainly not be true.
	- the word 'inheritance' is understood differently by different SGML/XML
experts and therefore may lead to differences in implementation. 

My feeling is that many experienced SGML people 'know what 'inheritance' or
'applies to' means - and there may indeed be a consensus in the community.
This is *not* shared with the vast and increasing number of those coming to
XML without an SGML background.

The most constructive thing - for me - is if the XML/XLink drafters could
give us a precise definition of the words 'applies to' and 'inherited'.
This definition have to be precise enough that implementers could decide
what and when applied to them. [However, do not underestimate the amount of
work in this - we still are not very clear what a 'processor' is, when
'validation' takes place, etc. , although we get by at present.]

My hope - and it's probably too optimistic - is that we can produce an API
which describes the implementation of these difficult concepts.


Peter Murray-Rust, Director Virtual School of Molecular Sciences, domestic
net connection
VSMS, Virtual Hyperglossary

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